AUBURN — Carnell "Cadillac" Williams is as Auburn as they come. A record-breaking running back during his four years on the Plains, Williams returned to his alma mater in 2019 to coach the new crop of Auburn running backs looking to etch their names in the annals of history.
When Bryan Harsin was fired last week, Auburn President Chris Roberts turned to Williams to lead the program during the final four games of the season. Williams endeared himself to the fans throughout the week, with his focus on bringing the program back to its roots, playing hard and making the Auburn family proud. The fans supported the young coach, with some even calling for him to be promoted to full-time head coach before he even coached a game.
The support might have been unexpected by some, but Williams has embraced it.
”It doesn't surprise me. That's why I chose this institution two decades ago because of that same love from the Auburn family,” said Williams. “They embraced a kid like myself that had a dream to take care of my mom, to change the trajectory of my family.”
After the fight shown by the Tigers in the loss to Mississippi State, the support has grown louder. Auburn played arguably its best game of the season, finally outscoring its opponent in the second half and making a comeback few thought was possible. And throughout it all, Williams remained humble and focused on his team and his players.
And that focus remains as the interim head coach and his staff prepare for Texas A&M (3-6, 1-5 SEC).
“Honestly, I'm just worried about now,” Williams said when asked about becoming head coach. “I want to sit in this moment and live in this moment because Lord knows, I never dreamed I would get this.”
With his sights set on A&M, Williams is looking to improve upon Saturday’s loss, primarily on the offensive side. The Tigers' comeback against Mississippi State was fueled by a combo of offense and defense, despite the offense being nonexistent during the first half.
Auburn’s defense forced three turnovers, but the offense managed just three points from those opportunities.
“Offensively, for us, it's gonna be a lot better,” Williams said. “We can have some time to, not making excuses, truly have a whole week to really watch Texas A&M and come up with a plan.”
The offense was led by offensive line coach Will Friend and wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard sharing the duties in the wake of Auburn firing Eric Kiesau. Friend and Hilliard were still using Kiesau’s playbook, with Friend seen during timeouts just combing through the plays.
“This is all new. We're all new to this. Auburn threw a bombshell on me, so I threw it back on them,” Williams said. “I thought those guys worked well together.”
Now, as Auburn moves forward, Williams will experience his first home game at the helm of the program. Calls have been made for fans to attend, and the new energy and excitement from Williams and the team has been contagious.
The first-time head coach looks forward to the environment that should be on display when Texas A&M rolls into Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night.
“It's Monday, so I'm gonna hold it together. But you can't make this up,” Williams said when asked about the game. “Honestly, I don't know how I'm gonna feel.”
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.